US journalist Marie Colvin was killed by Syrian rocket fire in February 2012 while reporting in the city of Homs
Damascus (AFP) - A US reporter killed in alleged Syrian government bombardment of a rebel district in 2012 was "responsible" for her own death, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview released Thursday.
Speaking to NBC News in Damascus, Assad said Marie Colvin bore responsibility for her death in the Baba Amr district of Syria's third city Homs because she had entered the country illegally and worked with "terrorists."
"It's a war and she came illegally to Syria. She worked with the terrorists, and because she came illegally, she's been responsible of everything that befall on her," Assad said, speaking in English.
Asked if she was responsible for her own death, Assad replied "of course," though he denied that his forces had targeted her.
"The army forces didn't know that Marie Colvin existed somewhere," he said.
"Nobody knows if she was killed by a missile or which missile or where did the missile come from or how.
"No one has any evidence. This is just allegations," he said, adding that "hundreds" of journalists had been to Syria "legally and illegally."
"Why to single out this person in order to kill her? There is no reason," he said.
His comments come days after relatives of the longtime war correspondent filed a lawsuit in a US court alleging Assad's regime targeted her to stop her covering government atrocities.
The suit, based on information from captured government documents as well as defectors, claims the Syrian military intercepted Colvin's communications and unleashed a barrage of rocket fire on her location, killing her and French photographer Remi Ochlik.
British photographer Paul Conroy, French reporter Edith Bouvier and Syrian media activist Wael al-Omar were wounded in the same attack.
The suit says senior Assad regime officials conspired "to surveil, target and ultimately kill civilian journalists in order to silence local and international media as part of its effort to crush political opposition."
Colvin, who was 56, covered many of the world's bloodiest conflicts from the 1980s onwards.
She was working for the British newspaper The Sunday Times.